Hollywood at Its 1-Dimensional Best

By BRIDGET BYRNE, Special to The Times

Joan Collins is portrayed lying enticingly on a sofa, Dominick Dunne writing intensely in one of his little green notebooks, Billy Wilder staring forth with owlish authority.

As captured in oil on canvas by Sacha Newley, Hollywood's rich, famous and intriguing were on display along with other portraits by the young British artist at a cocktail reception opening his first American show at the Chateau Marmont on Thursday night.

Collins was there not only as an admirer, but also as the proud mother of Newley, her son from her marriage to actor-singer Tony Newley. "His talent popped out of the blue," she said of the self-taught artist. "Neither Tony nor I can draw anything but stick figures."

Collins said she thought she had been "a better sitter than most," although the pose chosen was uncomfortable to hold for long.

Newley said that for a portrait he needs at least four live sittings and some time to take photographs. "Unless you are Lucian Freud, you can't ask for more than that," he said. "This is the worst time to be a portrait painter because it's the age of anxiety and no one feels able to sit still and there are so many intrusions like ringing phones. But, actually it is easier to get a likeness when someone is moving. You see more facets of them at once then."

Dunne, whose portrait drew the most praise, said, "I told Sacha I can't just sit there, so I just worked away, writing in my notebooks."

"It's marvelous, though the first time I've seen you with your tie totally correct," David Niven Jr. told Dunne.

The evening got more crowded as more and more flocked in and stayed to chat, particularly with the artist, whose other work on view included portraits of Gore Vidal, Oliver Stone and Nigel Hawthorne in his "The Madness of King George" role. Among the guests were Betsy Bloomingdale with son Robert and daughter-in-law Justine; Helmut and June Newton; Ed Moses; Sharon Stone; Barnaby, Mary and Kendall Conrad; Roddy McDowall; Stefanie Powers; Frank Bowling; and Newley's sister, Katy Cass.

Monday, February 3, 1997